Past Exhibits - 2007 - LeRoy Shield


Leroy Bernard Shield
1893-1962
Teacher, Performer, Arranger, Composer, Conductor

Leroy Shield was born in Waseca, Minnesota on October 2, 1893.

As a child, he lived with his parents, Patrick & Maud Shields on 4th Ave SE, which back then, was “Hill Street”. He moved away—eventually to Chicago and Hollywood, CA—where he became a composer, conductor, arranger, and performer for the movies. We remember him for the unforgettable songs in the soundtracks for many Laurel & Hardy movies and Little Rascals (also known as Our Gang) films of the 1920s and 1930s. These movies were produced by Hal Roach Studios during a time when talent was discovered anywhere and used under the old contract player system. Shield wrote his songs and conducted the orchestras for these movies with little or no recognition; but when you hear this music, you know it!

After thorough training in music under artist teachers at the Columbia School of Music and academic work at the University of Chicago, Mr. Shield became interested in the advancement of radio music.

As Conductor and Guest Conductor, Mr. Shield has many first performances of important new and rarely heard works to his credit, such as Schoenberg’s Pierro Lunaire, to list only one from many other significant contemporary works.

In 1923 Mr. Shield joined the staff of the Victor Talking Machine Company as Conductor of Repertoire. He was the pianist and musical director of Victor recording sessions.

By 1929 he was assigned by Victor Talking Machine Company to work with Hal Roach to help convert his studio to sound. At first Mr. Shield worked editing musical scores, but was soon asked to compose fresh music. As a result of his uniquely charming background music, the world of Laurel and Hardy, Our Gang/Little Rascals, and other great clowns on the Roach lot would be changed forever.

Leroy Shield was appointed Musical Director for the Central Division of the National Broadcasting Company in Chicago, Illinois in 1931. In the field of writing symphonic music for radio dramas, his work as composer and arranger is outstanding. Millions of radio listeners heard both his original symphonic contributions as well as his educational broadcasts.

In 1945 Leroy Shield relocated to New York to become the Conductor of NBC ‘s Orchestra Section. In this capacity he worked closely with Conductor Arturo Toscanini.

Leroy Shield retired in 1955. He died in 1962.

Although Leroy Shield had an extremely productive professional life, his importance as a composer has rarely been recognized. He was a major American Composer.

1893 Waseca County Herald
Announcing the birth of LeRoy Shield.
He weighed 13 pounds.
LeRoy Shield with his beloved
Kerry Blue Terrier, "Kerry"
LeRoy Shield
Little Rascal Dolls on loan from First National Bank
LeRoy Shield's golfing shirt LeRoy Shield at rehearsal Laurel and Hardy Figures